In December 2013, Charlotte and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee. I began working with Harding School of Theology, a wonderful seminary with some of the finest students anywhere. We moved from our home of 20 years in Waco, Texas. This was quite a transition. For 36 years, I preached in primarily three different congregations in Texas, Missouri and Alabama. I love serving a congregation. It was a very difficult decision to move my ministry from a congregation to a seminary.
I serve as an administrator for this seminary. Yet, I have never stopped preaching. I continue to preach many Sundays and teach Bible classes either Sunday morning or Wednesday evenings. The transition was not about ending ministry but changing its form and place. Yet, it was a transition and transitions are not easy.
In three years I have learned much.
- I have learned the beauty of an unexpected phone call or note from someone whom I have known many years. People from our congregation in Texas have been so good to us!
- I have learned how wonderful people are in Memphis. So many people have been gracious. I can’t count the number of lunches and coffees that I’ve had with various people.
- I have learned the importance of silence. Ruth Haley Barton has said, “… I believe silence is the most challenging, the most needed and the least experienced spiritual discipline among evangelical Christians today.” (See Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton, p. 19)
- I have learned how precious it is when people give financially to help these students. Specifically, when people give to help provide scholarships, they really bless these students. As a result, the congregations and cities where these students will serve will be blessed.
- I have learned (again) the importance of maintaining a rhythm of life that renews. Like many of you, I have no trouble finding something to do. Consequently, it is very important that I build into my life practices that can renew me. A time for exercise. A time to think. A time to read and reflect. A time to rest.
- I have learned that transition is difficult, even if it is a good transition. Transition takes a lot of energy. Sometimes transition is imposed upon you. At other times, it is something you choose. Regardless, it is difficult.
- I have learned much about developing habits that give a person endurance and energy. This is been a very important theme for me in the last few years.
Of course, I continue to learn much about being a husband, a father to two grown children (and a son-in-law), and a grandfather to three wonderful little boys. I also continue to learn much about what it means to live as a godly man.
Most of all, I am very grateful. I am grateful for the church in Florence, Alabama that we served for almost eight years. I am grateful for the church in Kansas City, Missouri where we served three years. I am grateful for the Crestview Church in Waco, Texas for twenty years of life and memories. I am thankful for friendships in Memphis and for co-workers at Harding School of Theology. Grateful for those who are donors to the school and encouragers to this ministry. (So many of us greatly underestimate the good that can be done with even the smallest gift.)
I am thankful for this chapter of life. In what ways are you thankful for your own life?